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Yi Sung-chun, 67; a Leading Performer of Classic Korean Music

September 28, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

Yi Sung-chun, 67, one of the most outstanding musicians of contemporary Korean classics, died Friday of cancer in Seoul, South Korea.

Born in what is now North Korea, Yi moved south during the 1950-53 Korean War and became a pioneer of Korean classics, called Gukak, or national music. He produced about 300 pieces of music, and helped reshape the gayageum, a traditional Korean instrument with nine strings, into one with 21 strings to broaden its tones.

In 2001, his contributions were recognized internationally when his name, along with those of 30 other Korean musicians, was included in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, which lists 3,000 important music figures worldwide.

Yi first studied medicine, but two years later switched to Korean classics at Seoul National University, where he taught for 30 years.

Students called him "a real model of Seonbi," or the disciplined and well-mannered intellectual class of the old royal Korean Joseon Dynasty.

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